I’m just back from a short trip to Stockholm, refreshed and filled with Scandi style Christmas inspiration. For a busy city is was incredibly mellow this time of year. Usually, city’s are hectic places in December, filled with crowds, bright lights and loud music – a total overload of stimuli for senses. A city break can leave you feeling exhausted rather than refreshed.
Stockholm was the very opposite. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the sun started to set at about 3pm, so from about 2pm everything was in twilight. Or perhaps it was because of the pared back and tasteful approach to Christmas. Decorations seemed to blend effortlessly with their surroundings and you got the impression that they would work well any time of the year. There were no multi-coloured lights, flashing signs or Santa paraphernalia anywhere. Instead, the lights were low, candles and lanterns burned inside and out, and fresh foliage was the decoration of choice. The overall effect was one of total tranquillity rather than commercial excess.
Christmas is an extremely busy time of year and it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of last-minute shopping and panic-buying. Particularly when it comes to decorations, there is so much on offer now and it all goes go on sale from as early as August. I remember someone telling me that they put away a lot of their furniture every year to make way for the Christmas decorations. This seemed like madness to me. We have so much stuff already, filling our homes with even more things that we really don’t need seems crazy not to mention that when it’s all over we need to find somewhere to store everything.
The Swedish approach is so refreshing. They seemed to be celebrating the season by decorating in a way that utilized what the season had to offer, the lights and lanterns served to brighten up the dark days and seasonal greens were used to adorn the interiors. I’m defiantly a fan of this less is more approach when it comes to decorating my home, I’m not a huge fan of clutter so like to keep things simple.
Here are five ways to bring a little Swedish festive calmness into your home. The best part about this way of dressing your home is that the decorations aren’t just for Christmas.
Not only is this a really inexpensive way to decorate your home but it’s also a lovely way to get other members of the family involved and put your own stamp on your decorations. Fill large vases with a mix of seasonal foliage, things like eucalyptus, pine and even branches all make lovely displays and most of the foliage smells wonderful too. Fill bowls or trays with pinecones and use small sprigs of foliage to decorate place settings.
Add some handwritten name cards for a really thoughtful and personalized display.
One of my favourite things about Stockholm was the lanterns that burned outside all of the shops and buildings once the sunset. It created such an intimate and mellow atmosphere. Invest in some lanterns for either side of your front door to offer a lovely festive welcome. Use them to light your patio or garden area too. Lighting up your outdoor space this time of year is especially nice as it gives you something lovely to look out onto. Light candles around your home and use them on your dining table to create a really intimate atmosphere.
Colour palettes were kept pretty simple everywhere in Stockholm. The streets were dressed in red. The main shopping street even had a red carpet. Inside colours were either green, red or white. The foliage was the backdrop for tasteful lights and decorations. Resist the temptation to over decorate your tree. I know the tendency at this time of year is to go with a ‘more is more’ approach to decorating but with the Swedish philosophy less is definitely more. If you find you have a lot of leftover decorations once you’ve finished with your tree, try filling glass vases with baubles of the same colour for use as table displays.
I’m a huge fan of plants and especially love them indoors at this time of year when our gardens have gone to sleep. Poinsettia are popular in Irish homes but broaden your horizons and invest in something that will last all year round. Try succulents or ferns and group them together in a cluster. Add some lights, candles or even a bauble or two for a lovely festive display.
Every window displayed one of these traditional decorations. They came in many shapes and sizes and are readily available in Ireland now too. The Swedish decorations are used with a light similar to a pendant that can be pulled into the wall. The chord is then hung from a hook in the ceiling so that the star can hang just inside the window. The stars can also be filled with fairy lights or simply hung in a cluster to create a Christmas wall display.
What’s you decorating preference? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below